Plywood veneer is a durable, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing material used in many different applications. Its production dates back to at least ancient Egyptian times, although modern industrialisation has significantly improved the production process. Moreover, it’s an environmentally-friendly building material since it minimises wastage and is also naturally resistant to expansion and contraction.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps involved in the production of plywood veneers, from tree to building material.
Sourcing the Logs
The first consideration is finding a good supply of sustainable, legal trees of the desired species and obtaining the right quantity. Forestry authorities, mills, and producers should always be cognisant of where their timber comes from.
Once the logs have been cut, they’re transported to the mill whereby they’re typically soaked in a log pond. Keeping the logs wet makes it easier for them to be cut and peeled to specification.
Preparing for Conversion
At the mill, logs must first be debarked. This is done with industrial machinery that also cuts the logs to the desired size, depending on the application. Veneered plywood relies on logs that can be peeled into a flat shape, so the next step involves rotary lathes that convert the logs into sheets of plywood veneer.
There are two variations commonly used in the UK:
- Quarter cut: 90 degree cut with respect to growth rings. Produces a straight grain effect;
- Crown cut.: cut directly through the log to give a crown characteristic.
Sizing & Grading
The veneers are cut directly onto a conveyor belt to be cut to the desired size. Long sections of veneer pass through the conveyor and are subsequently passed through an initial grading process.
Even with modern industrial machinery, the veneers don’t always come out uniform. Defects within the log, for instance, lead to sections which are unusable. This is why quality control, important through all steps of the production process, is important during the sizing step in order to identify and isolate sections of veneer.
Drying and Repairing
Prior to assembly, all veneers must be properly dried, typically done using industrial drying equipment. Dried veneers can then be repaired as necessary if imperfections had to be removed.
Gluing & Finishing
Plywood veneers are assembled using layers of veneer glued together. The glue is applied and layers are placed perpendicularly to create plywood’s strength and durability. It is then left under a press to uniformly distribute the glue and to allow it to set.
Once the plywood has dried and been glued, pieces are cut to size for clients and shipped to retailers and wholesalers across the nation such as Theo’s Timber Ltd. We proudly sell and wholesale quality veneered plywood of all types, and we proudly supply timber within Manchester and across the North West.